Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel was confirmed today by the Senate, with help from several Democrats who supported the nomination despite concerns over her role in post-9/11-era interrogation and detention practices.
The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Haspel, with a handful of Democrats voting in support. The vote came a day after Gina Haspel was recommended in a 10-5 vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Haspel is the first woman to lead the agency. She will replace now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, served as the base chief at a black-site prison in Thailand in 2002, where techniques such as waterboarding were used on terror suspects. But Republican supporters accused Democrats of politicizing her nomination, and initially trying to derail an otherwise highly qualified nominee.
At her confirmation hearing last week, Democrats grilled her on her views on what they deemed torture, as well as objecting to what they saw as the CIA’s selective declassification about information on her. She was also questioned at length about the 2005 destruction of more than 92 interrogation tapes a move she said she supported to ensure the safety of CIA agents. Haspel refused to criticize her colleagues and superiors for their conduct during what she called a “tumultuous time,” but said the CIA under her watch would not resume such techniques. She also defended her own conduct.
“After 9/11 … I stepped up. I was not on the sidelines, I was on the frontlines in the Cold War and I was on the frontlines in the fight against Al Qaeda,” she said in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Haspel’s confirmation had been in question after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., later joined by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he would not vote for her.